Rapid lung MRI in children with pulmonary infections: Time to change our diagnostic algorithms

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To determine the diagnostic utility of a new rapid MRI protocol, as compared with computed tomography (CT) for the detection of various pulmonary and mediastinal abnormalities in children with suspected pulmonary infections.


Seventy-five children (age range of 5 to 15 years) with clinically suspected pulmonary infections were enrolled in this prospective study, which was approved by the institutional ethics committee. All patients underwent thoracic MRI (1.5T) and CT (64 detector) scan within 48 h of each other. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV) of MRI were evaluated with CT as a standard of reference. Inter-observer agreement was measured with the kappa coefficient.


MRI with a new rapid MRI protocol demonstrated sensitivity, specificity, PPV, and NPV of 100% for detecting pulmonary consolidation, nodules (>3 mm), cyst/cavity, hyperinflation, pleural effusion, and lymph nodes. The kappa-test showed almost perfect agreement between MRI and multidetector CT (MDCT) in detecting thoracic abnormalities (k = 0.9). No statistically significant difference was observed between MRI and MDCT for detecting thoracic abnormalities by the McNemar test (P = 0.125).


Rapid lung MRI was found to be comparable to MDCT for detecting thoracic abnormalities in pediatric patients with clinically suspected pulmonary infections. It has a great potential as the first line cross-sectional imaging modality of choice in this patient population. However, further studies will be helpful for confirmation of our findings. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2016;43:1196–1206.

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